The Black magic Pocket cinema Camera (BMPCC) isn’t a still camera at all. If you google it with “still photography” related keywords, you gets nothing but a few people wondering if the idea of using it as still camera is possible, and no photos of such is found. . Of course, i bought BMPCC not because i want to use it as still camera either.
Using BMPCC with a vintage lens and Film Convert Pro, the images are so cinematic and organic.
So, why do I want to use BMPCC as a still camera, and will continue to do so?
Yes, its experimental. Yes, it’s non-intuitive to take pictures and getting image files out of it. Yes, the resolution is only 1920 x 1080 (2Mpix). What? 2Mpix? For some, this means a period in their reading already. But wait, there are certainly merits that i continue the “experimental” shooting.
Let’s talk about its background as a video camera first, If you ever try to look at the video produced by BMPCC, you will find its image astonishing as a HD video camera. RAW/ Prores422(HQ) with 13 stops of dynamic range. It’s a huge engineering archivement in video camera history: a pocketable body (355g) at $995 that can record RAW HD video! If 5D mk2 made the DSLR history, then blackmagic is like another big revolution there.
When I first test my BMPCC, the Prores video is Astonishing!!! no surprice the RAW IQ is for sure surpassing any bigger, heavier, more expensive DSLR out there that only use compressed H.264. before its release, the next step up to RAW will be already the 10-50k RED camera! (of course u now get more choice and the magic lantern hack) This little bastard is a legend in itself. Most other products gives 1 killer feature at a time. but black magic, give you 3 altogether out of the blue: RAW video/size/price.
And let me explain how I used it as a still camera? Nothong fantasy – it’s just a “stupid method”. I press the video record button twice when “taking photos” only i got a short clip of video. I put all clips into Aftereffects, and apply Film Convert Pro. Then scrub through each clip to select frames as photos to output.
Take a closer look at the image (video). The color and tonality is really unique, It’s both “soft and sharp”:
Soft: Not the details are soft nor blooming or flare, but soft in tonity. largely due to its default 13 stops of dynamic range on the LCD preview. Normally, you wont see images like these because still camera will give you a closer-to-reality look on the camera that is the common range of JPG. But BMPCC let you instantly see the broad range which results some washed out colors even you are not in film log color mode. You actually see a lotttt of details due to a lot less blown out white nor clipped blacks – thats what many regard as “cinematic” feel. it resembles what professional motion picture cameras (20 -100 times larger, heavier, and expensive) looks and how it looks to you when you watch movies in cinemas.
Sharp: I’m not comparing against any mirrorless or DSLR cameras. But to my surprise, its s16 sensor (slightly smaller than 1″ sensor like RX-100) produce such pixel-level sharpness: it almost feel like Foveon sensor that keep the sharpness at 1:1 pixel level. And at ASA/ISO 1600, the image is still reasonably, usably clean. (some would say 800) Out of my expectation, its noise is also VERY organic.
The second reason I’m so fond of using it is its adaptability to huge range of old lens, esp C-mount.
The image you see in this post is all taken with a c-mount lens: COMPUTAR 12.5-75mm/f.1.2 that i get from ebay.
The images of BMPCC with this vintage lens is cinematic and organic. Even with the small sensor, the constant f1.2 with 3x crop factor makes the longer end of the lens to exceed 200mm tele in 35mm eqv. and hence nice big vintage-uneven bokeh and vintage soft and vignette. Look at the above image of yellow trunk, its quite a bit film-like, but not exactly, and with its own character that neither modern sharp and clean camera and lens nor film camera will produce.
That said, it doesn’t have to be vintage look, if you couple it with a more modern M43 or cinema lens, it will produce you sharp images as well. Its up for your taste.
Other operational hassles includes the not-so-great LCD monitor, the small body making camera shake easier, reviewing video instead of photos, not to mention the full manual operation and the minimal functionality in the menu. As I said, it’s very experimental for still photography but hey look, i produce some “photos” here 🙂
Any experimental photographers doing the same like me? Does its uniqueness worth the struggle of non-intuitive process? You will be the judge but I will continue to use it 🙂
Happy shooting !